Wayne State University students, faculty petition for sanctuary campus designation

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Wayne State students and faculty are circulating a petition urging the university's leadership to designate the school a sanctuary campus following President Donald Trump’s move to deny federal funds to cities that won't comply with federal officials in deporting undocumented immigrants.

So far at least 1,300 people have expressed support for the proposal at the Midtown campus, which also asks that the university invest in faculty and staff training to support undocumented, refugee and immigrant students.

A WSU spokesman says university President M. Roy Wilson has seen the petition and is reviewing what becoming a sanctuary campus would entail. In a recent statement in response to Trump's ban on travel from seven majority-Muslim countries, Wilson said the university remains "committed to being a welcoming and inclusive campus," but he may follow the lead of other universities and stop short of adopting a sanctuary designation.

"There are legal issues that need to be taken into consideration," said WSU spokesman Matt Lockwood. "We have a police force and what is the chief's thought on this? Does he enforce the law or does he not and do we lose federal funds as a result?"

Concerns over federal funding have prompted many schools to shoot down proposals like the one circulating Wayne State's campus. Harvard, Illinois University, Penn State and the University of Maryland are among them.

"It's a very difficult decision," says Wayne State American Association of University Professors president Charles Parrish, whose organization supports the effort to make the school a sanctuary campus. "The president and the board are probably hesitant because of the political situation in Lansing and nationally."

The petition asks that university officials and campus police do not ask for or share the immigrant status of any student, staff, faculty, or community member on university land unless required to do so by subpoena or court order.

Lockwood says Wilson is considering the matter with help from his leadership team. An answer may come as soon as Monday.


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